The Pigeon Lake Watershed Association presented what could be the guiding document for the future of the popular recreation area.
The draft watershed management plan 2017 was presented in an open house environment by the Pigeon Lake Watershed Management Plan Steering Committee, represented by chair Bob Gibbs. Opening the meeting, Gibbs pointed out the draft plan was the result of many partners working together.
The open house, held in the Lakedell Ag complex curling rink, was intended as an open forum where the public could see the results of the steering committee’s draft plan, stated in the document as “…to develop a comprehensive, science-based strategy to coordinate action for the protection and improvement of Pigeon lake, its shore lands and its watershed.”
PLWA chair Susan Ellis noted the plan is being presented to discussion. “This is a draft plan,” she said. “Nothing is written in stone.”
The document included a vision statement noting the best approach is a collaborative effort including the entire community. “Without decisive action and commitment by all parties, the lake faces further degradation, which in turn affects the welfare of everyone around Pigeon Lake,” stated the report.
The draft plan’s stated goals are to reduce the frequency and intensity of algae blooms, improve the health of the watershed and the lake and to improve the recreational value of the lake and economic health of the region.
“The plan focuses on topics and actions that are rooted in science, provide benefit and represent common ground,” stated the report.
The watershed plan noted the PLWA was formed in 2006 after significant algae blooms, followed by a renewed watershed plan in 2012. The current draft plans promotes implementation by municipal governments and also identified actions for individuals, First Nations, the provincial government and many other stakeholders.
The background also listed a lengthy “progress to date” section including lakewatch reports, investigations into water import, the 2014 Pigeon lake Phosphorus Budget and much more.
Under “snapshot of the lake,” the infamous algae blooms were described as being more noticeable, more severe and more frequent, especially since 2002. Land cover maps are included in the draft report showing how phosphorus gets into Pigeon Lake.
Under the “roadmap” heading, a chart shows how the plans goal of improving Pigeon Lake’s health could be accomplished, including the watershed, the lake itself, the shoreline and local unity. Key findings included reducing the amount of phosphorus going into Pigeon Lake and objectives included nearby included increasing land cover types, improving phosphorus management, promoting clean runoff practices and protecting groundwater that feeds into the lake.
During the open house it became clear some residents of the area were impatient about the algae problems, suggesting the problem should be solved in a few months, for example, rather than developing plans or conducting scientific studies.
Some of those present echoed the comment that they’re tired of waiting for the lake to improve, and some felt they were being left out of the loop.
Ellis noted the PLWA and steering committee are doing everything they can to be transparent; for example, she pointed out most of the scientific studies that have been conducted in and around the lake are available for download on the PLWA website.
The draft report is also available on the website, http://www.plwa.ca. At the meeting it was stated the draft plan will be given to municipalities to approve after the upcoming municipal election.